Council's request for written submissions NOT An Adequate Replacement For A Full Public Inquiry
Eurobodalla councillors, via their weekly Mayoral video address, have made it clear that the community bushfire recovery catch-ups are only for people directly impacted, but are not open forums.
Councillors advise the purpose of these sessions "will provide members of both communities with the opportunity to talk one-on-one with representatives from bushfire support agencies. They can discuss support available, get assistance with navigating the recovery process, or simply have a bit of a chat.
"Support agencies include Rural Resilience Program, Rural Financial Counselling Service, BlazeAid, Service NSW, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Eurobodalla Council, Rural Resilience Program, and health and wellbeing services."
The Council facebook message was clear that for members of the community who were NOT 'directly impacted' such as those who in business who suffered financial loss or those who lost their jobs, that Council invites them to send a letter describing their experiences, ideas, information and views and also to make a submission to include in Council's report to NSW Bushfire Inquiry. By contrast, in a media release issued today, Labor’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Rebuilding and Recovery, Yasmin Catley MP, has slammed the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government for its failure to heed the call of communities across New South Wales that are calling for an open and transparent public inquiry into the 2019-2020 bushfire disaster. “For weeks now we have been calling on the government to provide bushfire survivors with a real public inquiry, instead of running it behind closed doors or offering Mickey Mouse meetings in a lame attempt to appease their critics,” Yasmin Catley said. Last night in Lithgow, the Government ran a small town hall meeting but it was not an official public hearing and attendees were still told they should make a formal written submission through the inquiry website. The Government’s inquiry allows individuals and organisations to make submissions via an online portal, but so far Deputy Premier John Barilaro has ruled out running full public hearings in bushfire affected regions. “How are these people supposed to sit down and give thought to a comprehensive written submission when they have lost everything? Are they supposed to tap it out on their smartphones? These are people who have no homes, no computer, no writing desk. They need to be supported and listened to, not run through the bureaucratic wringer,” Ms Catley said. “Instead of what we saw in Lithgow last night, where a brief meeting occurred that was poorly advertised and minimally attended, and which apparently is the only one of its kind in the Blue Mountains and Central West region, we need a real program of open, transparent public hearings where what is said by bushfire survivors is actually incorporated into evidence for the inquiry,” she added.